Tuesday 25 June 2013

Dumb ways to die, good ways to jingle

Jesse and Joey from Full House are back in business! 

Dumb Ways to Die just cleaned up at Cannes. And that means Jingles are back!

But wait, didn't we relegate jingles to Carpet King ads on community TV for a reason?

Of course we did.

Jingles are the sum of everything that is contemptible about advertising. They are a product of primitive psychology. The same psychology that therapeutically electrocuted people, and believed homosexuality was an illness. 

Jingles were designed for one thing: To achieve memorability by getting jammed in people's heads - likeabilty be damned! (Coles down down ads anyone?)

So, everyone (Sans Ted Horton) banished the jingle from their ideas toolbox, because, like a suit secretly changing your copy, they were more than just slightly annoying. 

We even banned the mere mention of the word 'jingle' from echoing in our foosball laden agencies in fear our CDs thought we'd gone mad.

Then Dumb Ways to Die Happened. 

It has enjoyed unequalled success at Cannes (Five Grand Prix, 18 Gold Lions, three Silver Lions and two Bronze.)

And this success should be a welcome reminder that in advertising, as other art forms:

Let form follow function.

Jingles aren't inherently bad, it's what has been done with them in the past that has earned them their bad reputation. McCann knew the rules and very intentionally broke them, and to great effect. 

They knew the function of the advertising had to change behaviour and the importance of it being remembered wasn't merely to sell more stuff, but to save lives. So they created an ad in the form of a jingle. Not an irritating one (Like Coles), but an incredibly likeable one. Smashing together the benefits of old school jingles and new era story telling. Bam!

So, what do you take away from this?

Let form follow function. If an execution hasn't worked in the past it doesn't mean it won't work for you and your new brief. Don't discount a technique as bad just because it has previously been executed poorly.

(I know some people call it a song, even the creator John Mescall calls it a song, but it's a song for advertising! So, a jingle by any other name is still a jingle.) 

Bad jingle vs. good jingle:

By Christopher Ott

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Buyhaviour 2: Status Quo Bias

When you're picking a restaurant for dinner, out of the hundreds around you, how many do you consider?

When you're at said restaurant what do you order from the menu? Something you've had before? 

This limited consideration set that you keep coming back to, surely you don't continue returning out of some Kevin Roberts' fantasy of deep loving loyalty, do you? 

Of course not! This lazy behaviour (cognitive shortcut) of returning to the safety of familiarity; 

This is the Status Quo Bias.

The Status Quo Bias reveals that we favour the current state of affairs, and we do this because the disadvantages of switching loom larger than the advantages.

In other words, you are biased to keep things how they are, and you do this because you don't want to risk the unknown. You are risk averse (And regret averse)

So, what’s the implications of this in advertising?

Well, it simply reinforces what marketing science has maintained for decades: 

The hyperbolic idea of brand loyalty is a fiction. Sure, you exhibit polygamous loyalty to a repertoire, but your purchase decisions aren't made because a brand has coaxed you into a deep loving commitment...

You are simply too lazy to hazard a change - you are loyal to loss aversion - and that means you keep naturally returning to the brands you know.

Or as Herbert (1956) put it, you are ‘satisficed’ with your current purchasing decisions. (They may not be the most optimal decisions, but you're satisfied and that will suffice.)

Unfortunately, many planners, suits and creatives still subscribe to the anachronism that shoppers agonise over their buying decisions in a rational, calculating way. That consumers stand in a supermarket aisle picking and switching brands because they feel an ardent sense of loyalty to them.

They mistakenly gloss over the idea that buying is habitual, and loyalty is simply a product of loss aversion and laziness - The Status Quo Bias. 

And this mistake has lead to an overemphasis on the personifying, positioning and differentiating of brands (In a vain attempt to gain loyalty), which places asinine restrictions on you being able to create truly intelligent, entertaining, memorable and ultimately effective advertising. 

So now, similar to the Availability Bias post, let's explore some practical applications using the Status Quo Bias.

Knowing the Status Quo Bias is inextricably linked to loss aversion, may mean ads that communicate what the audience is losing, rather than gaining are more effective. Eg.

But, for me, the most obvious way to use the status quo bias is to create advertising that places the audience in the protagonist’s shoes. Eg.

By doing this, you're simulating the audience's experience of using the brand, and this has every capacity to result in them feeling a sense of loss when they don't have it.

Don't miss next month's Buyhaviour, which will examine the implications of the Confirmation Bias (Our tendency to favour information that agrees with us) on the way your audiences view and process your advertising. And, if you missed it, follow the link below to read last month's post about the Availability Bias.

Christopher Ott